Students at a Washington state high school had planned to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks by wearing red, white, and blue at a patriotic-themed game, but school officials rejected the plan because the event could “unintentionally cause offense to some who see it differently,” according to a new report.
“At Eastlake High School in Sammamish, student leadership promoted a Patriot’s Day theme at a football game at Memorial Stadium against Rainier Beach. The game was previously canceled, then rescheduled to the day before the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Students wanted to do something to remember the tragic events. But staff intervened,” radio station KTTH reported.
“According to an email obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, the principal said wearing those colors could ‘unintentionally cause offense to some who see it differently.’ Students are upset. And some parents now speculate school officials thought their majority-minority opponents would be offended by American pride,” the station reported.
Rantz, a host at the station, said an unnamed staffer at the high school canceled the display “at the last minute.” A student told the show that he was informed that the “red, white and blue was going to be seen as racially insensitive and may affect people in a way that we will not understand and for that reason that we were to change our theme.”
“At this point, I was fairly upset and confused as to why the theme was changed so I went around asking students in our leadership,” the student said. One mother emailed school principal Chris Bede to explain, and the station posted a screengrab of his response.
“Our leadership teachers made this decision and explained it to students,” Bede wrote. “I know tomorrow is 9/11 and understand the sacrifice and values our flag represents, but I think they just did not want to unintentionally cause offense to some who see it differently.”
The communications director for the school district, Shannon Parthemer, said, “Since it was not a home game, there was no opportunity to have an announcement about Patriot’s Day and to share why students were dressed in red, white, and blue.”
“Parthemer tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that there is no implication towards the opposing team. She points to one unnamed staff member as responsible for the decision to cancel the theme,” the outlet reported.
“We have followed up with the staff member on decision making processes,’” Parthemer reportedly said.
Bede also said he was surprised by the decision. “I understand your perspective and was not looped into this conversation until an hour ago,” he told a student in an email reviewed by the station. “I do want to clarify that schools do not have a right to ban students from wearing anything as long as it is not lewd, vulgar, etc. And the theme of red, white, and blue definitely would not fit into that category.”